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Orchestra plays music from all eight movies at Mann Hall

Gulf Coast Symphony's Andrew Kurtz will wear full Jedi robes when he conducts Sunday's “Star Wars Summer Family Concert.
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Think of it as Star Wars, Episode II: The symphony strikes back.

Three years after its popular “Star Wars Summer Family Concert,” Gulf Coast Symphony returns Sunday with a sequel. The community orchestra will play music from all eight Star Wars movies — everything from the soaring theme song to the operatic “The Duel of the Fates” to the more recent “Rey’s Theme.”

“Everyone loves the movies, and everyone loves the music” says music director Andrew Kurtz. “And the orchestra loves playing the music.

“John Williams is a master of orchestral color. It can be difficult to play, but tons and tons of fun.”

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To make it even more fun, Kurtz will leave his usual tuxedo at home for the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall concert. Instead, he’ll wear a full set of Jedi robes — and many other orchestra members will dress up, too.

Those robes help get Kurtz in the mood for the hour-long concert, but he admits there’s one downside.

“It’s hot,” he says. “It’s a lot of layers!”  

Kurtz has described himself as “quite the science fiction nerd” and “a huge fan of Star Wars.” So it was only a matter of time before he took on “Stars Wars” and other science-fiction movies in 2016.

Finn in a scene from

Unlike that concert, though, Sunday’s show features 100-percent Star Wars songs. No music from Star Trek, Superman and other science fiction/fantasy movies.

It’s not easy music to play, though. “There are lots of notes,” Kurtz says.

Timpani player Gary Colston admits he’s only seen one Star Wars movie — the first one — but he’s still a big fan of the series’ rousing, dramatic music by Hollywood composer John Williams.

“It’s always been a challenge to play, because of the rhythmic variety he likes to use,” Colston says. “It takes a lot of work. … But it’s a lot of fun.”

Daisy Ridley portrays Rey in a scene from  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker .

Audience members are encouraged to dress up for Sunday’s concert, too. And they can even sit onstage to get up close and personal with the orchestra.

“If you’ve never sat onstage with a full orchestra playing, it’s a very different experience,” Kurtz says. “You can actually feel the sound waves passing through your body.

“It just changes the dynamic and the relationship between the orchestra and the children. That experience of being so close to the instruments and hearing the sound that way just adds a new dimension.”

Gulf Coast Symphony conductor Andrew Kurtz wears Jedi robes in this promotional image for “Star Wars Summer Family Concert.

Another fun part of the concert: Kids can get there an hour early to try out musical instruments in the Musical Discovery Zone. They can handle instruments, try their hand at playing them and meet some of the orchestra’s musicians.

Kurtz hopes the concerts inspire kids and teach them to love orchestral music just as much as he does. In fact, it was the music of John Williams and Star Wars that helped inspire Kurtz to do what he does for a living.

“I loved movie music, and I got hooked on it when I was a pre-teen, probably 12.” he says. “John Williams was one of the reasons that I became a conductor,” 

Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram)

If you go

What: Gulf Coast Symphony performs “Star Wars Summer Family Concert”

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, south Fort Myers

Tickets: $10-$15

Info: 481-4849 or

Written By

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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